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Diet soda may cause heart attacks, strokes

London: Diet soda may be a wise choice for those who are keen to look after their health, but a new study has claimed that sugar-free fizzy drinks could actually raise the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The study of more than 2,500 people found that those who had diet drinks every day were 61 per cent more likely to get vascular problems than those who did not have any carbonated drinks.

"If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes," said researcher Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

For their study, Gardener and colleagues recruited about 2,560 participants who had to report whether they drank diet fizzy drinks, regular fizzy drinks, a mixture of the two or none at all, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers, however, said the survey did not include data on the types of diet and regular drinks consumed, which could have given further information on how drinking different brands affected participants.

Further studies would have to be carried out to explore how consuming diet drinks potentially raised the risk of vascular problems, said Dr Gardener.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, from The Stroke Association, said: "According to this study, drinking diet fizzy drinks on a regular basis could pose the same or even higher risk for cardiovascular disease as standard fizzy drinks, providing a word of warning to those who often opt for diet versions in order to be `healthy`."

"Everyone can reduce their risk of stroke by consuming a balanced diet, low in saturated fat and salt, and exercising regularly," Dr Ahmed added.

The researchers presented their study at the American Stroke Association`s international stroke conference in Los Angeles.

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